A Los Angeles jury has found that Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” copies a Christian rap song called “Joyful Noise”.
The infringement lawsuit was filed by Christian rapper Marcus Gray, aka Flame, who claims his track “Joyful Noise” was the basis for “Dark Horse”. He specifically alleges that his song’s trap beat was lifted by Perry, Capitol Records, producers Dr. Luke and Max Martin, and Juicy J, who provided guest bars on 2013’s “Dark Horse”.
Perry & co. maintain that they were unaware of “Joyful Noise”, and that the beat in question has long been in existence and thus not subject to such a copyright case. One of their expert witnesses even testified that the “musical patterns in dispute were as simple as ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb,'” according to The Associated Press.
“They’re trying to own basic building blocks of music, the alphabet of music that should be available to everyone,” Perry’s lawyer Christine Lepera asserted during her closing arguments last week.
Gray’s attorneys argued that it was possible Perry and her defendants heard “Joyful Noise” sometime in the last decade. Despite targeting a Christian demographic, he said “Joyful Noise” has been widely distributed since its release in 2009 — streamed millions of times on both YouTube and MySpace and even played during the Grammy Awards. Gray also made it a point to note that Perry has roots in the Christian music world.
Following Monday’s verdict, the case now moves into the penalty phase. The jury is tasked with determining how much Perry & co. will have to pay up for the infringement.
Most filed music copyright infringement lawsuits end in a settlement or dismissal. Perry’s “Dark Horse” is now one of the few outliers of the last 10 years, alongside Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’ “Blurred Lines” and Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”.
Stream both “Joyful Noise” and “Dark Horse” for yourself below.